WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF STATE FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION, BARR. MOHAMMED H. ABDULLAHI, AT THE 19TH MEETING OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION (NCSTI), HELD FROM MONDAY, 20TH – FRIDAY, 24TH SEPTEMBER, 2021 AT THE CONFERENCE HALL OF THE NATIONAL SPACE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NASRDA), OBASANJO SPACE CENTRE, ABUJA.
I am delighted to welcome you all to this important occasion of the 19th Meeting of the National Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (NCSTI) 2021, with the theme “Investment in Research and Development: A Necessary tool to Improving Nigerian Economy”. This theme cannot be more apt now, considering the negative effects of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of both developing and developed nations of the world and also the fact that the contribution of STI to vaccine production and other protocols are highly needed.
2.Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a known fact that one of the major challenges facing the Science, Technology and Innovation sector of developing economies is lack of adequate funding for Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I), as such, government needs to invest heavily in R&D to spur industrialization in order to improve the livelihood of Nigerians.
3.Going further, permit me to inform you that the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in the past few years has been working tirelessly to improve the socio-economic status of the nation through its RD&I efforts. It is our utmost desire that with the change of the Ministry’s nomenclature, we will vigorously drive the Innovation Agenda with renewed zeal and sense of responsibility.
4.It is to be noted that in spite of the gains made in the past few years, Nigeria still remains No.117th in the Global Innovation Index 2021 according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Report for this year. The Report ranked Mauritius as first in Africa in Global Innovation Index followed by Kenya (85), Cape Verde (89), Egypt (94), Namibia (100), Malawi (107), Madagascar (110), Zimbabwe (113), Burkina Faso (115). The Report attributed Nigeria’s low ranking due mainly to lack of data on the activities in the Innovation space. An overview of our ranking in broadly Seven GII Areas shows that Nigeria performs best in Business sophistication and its weakest performance is in STI infrastructures.
5. It is very clear that Nigerians have made great strides in Inventions and Innovations but are not adequately captured as data from relevant Institutions in the Country. That is why, the various departments of Research, Planning and Statistics of both the FMSTI and the States and our researchers and Innovators must rise up to the occasion and provide verifiable statistics of the various progress Nigeria has made in the STI Sector. We need to provide information on Institutional performance, Human Capital Research, Infrastructure, Market & Business sophistication, Knowledge and technology outputs and finally on creative outputs. Understanding these challenges, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR approved the name change from FMST to FMSTI to widen the Ministry’s scope to include Innovation; No, 117th is therefore unacceptable and we must justify the name changed approved by Mr. President and ensure that Nigeria is in the top 100 in three years from now and in the top 50 in the next 10 years. We must begin to look beyond the corona virus pandemic as an excuse for tagging behind, other African countries have made progress in Innovation in spite of the pandemic.
6. The corollary to this is the urgent need for the ongoing review of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STI Policy) to provide elaborate framework for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (AI&R), Fintech and other disruptive Innovations in order to have a robust, flexible, dynamic and all-encompassing STI ecosystem. The current STI Roadmap also needs to be reviewed as well, to accommodate these current and emerging development in the STI space.
7. It is on this backdrop that we are requesting government to provide adequate funding for Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) to the STI sector as well as tax incentives for private sector organizations to invest in RD&I activities in collaboration with Tertiary and Research Institutions in order to minimize over dependency on imported products, goods and services. These will encourage and promote home-grown Innovation for job creation and wealth generation to arrest youth restiveness and other social vices plaguing the nation.
8. Distinguished Council Members, considering our collective commitment to enhance the Nigerian STI sector, we have no doubt that our deliberations and recommendations on the Technical Committee’s Report will in no small measure provide strategies and ways for adequate investment in the Nigerian STI sector geared towards improved RD&I for sustainable development of the Nigerian Economy and also a further commitment to bridge the gap in information sharing and timely response to interrogatories from global and domestic data collation Institutions like NBS, UNESCO, WIPO, ILO etc.
9. Permit me at this juncture to thank His Excellency, the Hon Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation,
Dr Ogbonnaya Onu for all his untiring sacrifices to the STI Sector. Well done Your Excellency. I also thank the organizers of this year’s event and our host – the National Space Research and Development Agency for their support for a successful Council meeting.
10. Once again, I welcome us all to the 19th Meeting of the National Council on Science, Technology and Innovation (NCSTI), and also wish us fruitful deliberations.
11. Thank you and God bless our great Nation, Nigeria.
Barr. Mohammed H. Abdullahi
The Honourable Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation,
23rd September, 2021.